Thomas Hovenden, Study of Two Standing Brenton Males
In the late 1870s, Thomas Hovenden left Paris to paint under the tutelage of American artist Robert Wylie at Pont-Aven, France. Wylie’s artist colony in the Breton village was a haven for American and British painters who sought affordable accommodations and an opportunity to work alongside their contemporaries. Like Wylie, Hovenden was drawn to the Breton peasant. Both artists worked from carefully arranged compositions in a style marked by great precision.
This study of two Breton men is one such composition. The arrangement and positions of the figures indicate Hovenden’s interest not only in studying the human form but also in capturing human interactions. The man on the left hunches over and extends his hand, while the figure to his right stands tall with his arms crossed, closing off his body.